Category: Ottoman Empire

“Kleptomania” and “kleptocracy” come from the same Greek word,

kléptein, “to steal.” Another descendant of 
kléptein

is
Kléftis.

In modern Greek, Kléftis
were highwaymen turned self-appointed anti-Ottoman insurgents. They were descendants of
Greeks who retreated into the mountains during the 1400s after the Ottomans conquered the Greek-speaking world, and they maintained a war of harassment against the Ottomans until the 1800s and Greek’s independence. Being an insurgent was a family tradition!

It is delicately carved in relief with arabesque designs of interlacing foliage.

From an Ottoman Empire atlas published in 1803.

Notice how the island of Tasmania is part of the mainland – Australia had been added to western maps for only a few decades at this point.

The Turkish national flag is mostly red, with a white star and a crescent in the center. Ottoman Sultan Selim III formalized the look in 1793, but the flag is actually much older.

The crescent-and-star combination has been used in Turkey since Hellenistic times (400s to 100 BCE). It likely came from ancient Mesopotamian iconocraphy. Ancient depictions of the symbol always show the crescent with horns pointing upward and with the star placed inside the crescent, for reasons that have been lost to time. When it came to Turkey, they gave it their own meanings. For Byzantium the moon symbolized Diana, also known as Artemis, the patron goddess of the city.

In 1453, when the city was conquered by the Ottoman Empire, the flag remained unchanged. With time, it became not just Istanbul’s flag but the Ottoman flag, with its design formalized in 1793 and its status as national flag formalized in 1844. Turks affectionately call the flag “ay yildiz” – the “moon star” flag.

Many nations that were once part of Ottoman Empire adopted the star-and-crescent when they gained independence, including Libya, Tunisia, and Algeria. In the 1900s the symbol became associated with not just the Ottomans, but with Islam in general, and many states that were never part of the Ottoman Empire adopted it too, including Pakistan, Malaysia, and the Maldives. Pretty amazing that an ancient Mesopotamian symbol is flown around the world today.

Mihailo and Mahmud Anđelović were separated as infants. Although they belonged to a branch of the aristocratic Greek family Angelos, their branch had taken refuge in Serbia after the Ottoman conquest of Thessaly in 1394.

The family could not escape the Ottomans entirely. Mahmud was captured by Ottoman Turks as an infant, brought up near Edirne in Turkey, and converted to Islam. Mahmud grew up to be smart and capable. He rose through the Ottoman bureaucracy to become beylerbey (senior provincial governor) of Rumelia in 1451, and Grand Vizier in 1455.

Mahmud’s brother Mihailo (or Michael in English) stayed in Serbia. He served as a Serbian court official under the reigns of Đurađ and Lazar Branković. Serbia at the time was a state bordering the Ottoman Empire, and was largely dominated by the Ottoman Empire.

The two brothers were eventually reunited! But under strange circumstances. In the negotiations between Serbian ruler Lazar Branković and Ottoman emperor Mehmed II in 1457, Mihailo was sent to represent and negotiate for Lazar, and Mahmud represented and negotiated for Mehmed II!

The last Sultan of the Ottoman Empire, Mehmed VI, leaves Dolmabahçe Palace for the last time – November 17 1922

via reddit

historical-nonfiction:

Often called “Peter the Great of Turkey,” Mahmud II was the 30th sultan of the Ottoman Empire. He reigned from 1808 until his death in 1839. Mahmud II oversaw extensive military, administrative, and monetary reforms which were capped by the Decree of Tanzimat in 1839.

Tanzimat was an overarching modernizing effort which, among other things, ended tax farming, created military conscription from districts based on size (instead of the hereditary Janissaries), and created legal and social equality before the law for all citizen (instead of different religious systems operating autonomously, often with special privileges for favored sects). One aspect of Tanzimat greatly limited the sultan’s power: it guaranteed citizens the rights of life and property. This meant sultans could no longer execute or confiscate the property of anyone at whim.

Unfortunately, Mahmud II died in 1839, so Tanzimat had to be implemented by his sons and successors.

derivativesequence: The Auspicious Incident

Mahmud II is mostly remembered today for his … harsh … elimination of the janissaries. The once-elite fighting force had become an outdated, hereditary power broker that had overthrown previous sultans who attempted to curb their power, rather like the Praetorian Guard of the Roman Empire centuries before. So Mahmud’s harsh elimination of the janissaries was warranted.

In a nutshell, the Auspicious Incident was a revolt by the Janissaries after Mahmud II attempted to organize a new army, which would be modeled after contemporary European armies. The janissaries revolted, predictably, as they had in response previous attempts to modernize the army. The revolt was put down by having his new, modern troops fire on the janissary barracks. They caught fire, and those who escaped the fires were shot. About 4,000 were killed. Survivors were hunted down, and had their property confiscated, were executed, or both.

Just like that, the janissaries were done. Mahmud II managed to do what many sultans before him could not. The janissaries were no longer a sword, held to the sultan’s throat, which could change policies and regimes on a whim.

Often called “Peter the Great of Turkey,” Mahmud II was the 30th sultan of the Ottoman Empire. He reigned from 1808 until his death in 1839. Mahmud II oversaw extensive military, administrative, and monetary reforms which were capped by the Decree of Tanzimat in 1839.

Tanzimat was an overarching modernizing effort which, among other things, ended tax farming, created military conscription from districts based on size (instead of the hereditary Janissaries), and created legal and social equality before the law for all citizen (instead of different religious systems operating autonomously, often with special privileges for favored sects). One aspect of Tanzimat greatly limited the sultan’s power: it guaranteed citizens the rights of life and property. This meant sultans could no longer execute or confiscate the property of anyone at whim.

Unfortunately, Mahmud II died in 1839, so Tanzimat had to be implemented by his sons and successors.

On March 10, 1799, the Ottoman city of Jaffa (in what is today Israel) fell to Napoleon and his French troops. The general ordered his men to slaughter several thousand men in the city’s garrison that had been taken prisoner, mainly Albanians.

Napoleon viewed this as justice for the Ottomans killing French messengers sent to Jaffa. Today it would be a war crime.